Christmas Eve memories

It wasn’t Santa Claus but it was magic nevertheless.

Santa toy, oil on archival canvasboard, $435 in a narrow silver frame, available this month through Camden Public Library.

We were raised without Santa Claus, my parents believing that it was bad to lie to children. Furthermore, my mother was inept at gift-buying. It was the Swinging Sixties, and my friends were getting Barbies, slot cars and record players. We got winter gloves, long underwear, clothes and socks.

I don’t remember feeling particularly deprived about it. We were rich in playthings. We had dirt bikes, dogs, horses, chickens, cows, and a sailboat. Mom was just whimsy-impaired. There were never Barbies or Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots when we were little.

Christmas Presents, sold this month through Camden Public Library.

We were not churchgoers, so nothing set Christmas morning apart. We would open our gifts, have breakfast, and then do as we always did on weekends and holidays—go outside and scare up some fun.

Christmas Eve was the holiday that mattered. Our grandmother’s home in South Buffalo was an hour’s drive in perfect weather. The weather in Buffalo in December is often horrible. Blizzards blow in across Lake Erie in the so-called ‘lake effect’ storms of early winter. Yet we never missed a year, even when it meant inching along the Thruway in white-out conditions.

There was always a battle for a window seat, because there was no car radio or light to read by. Instead, there was frost on the windows, in which one could draw pictures, and a kaleidoscope of winter scenes.

Christmas Eve, oil on archival canvasboard, $435 in a narrow silver frame, available this month through Camden Public Library.

It’s said that my Aunt Mary once laid my infant cousin Liz down in the huge pile of coats on my grandmother’s bed and forgot her. I can no longer remember if that is true or not.

What I remember most was the noise. The tables were set down the center of my grandmother’s apartment, and we were seated in descending order of age. There was no segregation of kids from adults. My grandmother was an immigrant and a young widow. She was the head of her clan, with six kids and 25 grandkids. In a sense, we were her life’s work, and she liked seeing us all together.

There was no dishwasher, of course. After dinner, aunts and cousins retreated to the kitchen to clean up, and my grandmother’s standards were exacting. That might gall today, but we didn’t mind. I got to know my cousins standing in Grandma’s kitchen drying plates.

Christmas Angel, courtesy private collector.

If it was not storming, my parents might be persuaded to go to Midnight Mass at my grandmother’s parish church. The hush, the candles, and the strange beauty of Catholic liturgy were all alien and yet so familiar. I’d been watching it from outside for my whole short life.

And then, the long drive home through the snow. Dozing, perhaps, but never really sleeping, the squeak of tires in snow, windshield wipers flapping. Dark roads and sometimes moonlight. It wasn’t Santa Claus but it was magic nevertheless.

My sister Ann died, and then my brother John, and then my cousin Frankie. My dad pretty much fell apart after that. Grandma got too old to make the white pasta and baccalà, so the aunts took over with sheet pans of lasagna. The Christmas feast wandered, irresolute, from house to house until it finally died.

But Christmas Eve remains one of my favorite days of the year. We’ll fry fish tonight, and video-chat with our kids and grandkids, and then wait with the rest of the world, in a silent hush of anticipation. Tonight, we celebrate the Incarnation, when God sent his only son to deliver us from our own stupidity. Of all the gifts I’ve ever received, that understanding is undoubtably the greatest.

Sometimes you really do have to suffer for your art

I need to get outside or my brushwork gets too fussy.

Harkness Brook, oil on canvas with a splotch or two of snow, by Carol L. Douglas.

After I taught in Tallahassee in November, it took me a few weeks to acclimate myself to the temperature here in Maine. I expected that. I didn’t expect the same thing when I got home from Wyoming this week. It was warmer than usual there, and now the entire country has settled into the winter deep freeze.

Here in Maine, I usually spend a few hours a day outside. At dawn I hike up to the summit of Beech Hill. That gets the blood flowing for the day. At midday I go out again, either to the post office or on another off-road hike. I almost always get my 10,000 steps in without being aware that I’m ‘exercising’ or that it’s cold outside.

The wind-sculpted summit of Beech Hill.

But after I’ve been on the road, I’m always miserable the first few days back. “My everything hurts,” I complained yesterday. I’d been sitting behind the wheel of my new truck for a week, driving. At my age, I decondition far more quickly than I did at twenty.

My limit for sustained outdoor activity is 10°F. Below that, it’s just too much work to stay warm. Luckily, I live right on the coast, where extreme cold is unusual. That ocean just beyond my backyard acts like a massive heatsink, cooling us in the summer and warming us in the winter.

Snow at Highter Elevations (Downdraft Snow) by Carol L. Douglas

But I can be fooled, as I was on Monday. The nominal temperature was in the teens, but as I rounded the summit, I was hit square in the face by a bitter wind. The wind often picks up as the sun rises, and this one was fierce. By the time we were back to the car, even my little dog—seemingly impervious to the cold—was acting chilled.

Still, the snow is beautiful, hanging on every evergreen branch. “You want to paint?” I texted a few of my buddies. Only Ken DeWaard was foolish enough to agree. Dressed in my long underwear, mittens, neck gaiter, heavy jacket, and hardiest boots, I drove out to meet him. It was absolutely awful, but we both did sketches that we liked. Meanwhile, Eric Jacobsenwas painting near the top of Beech Hill, and he did a fine painting. There’s a lesson in that, I think. Sometimes you really do have to suffer for your art.

Meanwhile, it’s continued to snow, and the temperature continues to drop. I’m looking out at the gloaming wondering if I want to go out to paint again today. It all depends on the light.

Why do we do this, when we each have nice, toasty-warm studios in which we can paint? One paints differently in the studio from in the field. I need regular days of painting from life so that I remember what life looks like when I paint from photos. Without that, my brushwork gets too fussy.

Postscript: my student Yvonne Bailey posted the above photo on Facebook. She had rearranged her furniture and swapped her dogs’ crates around. Creatures of habit, they both insisted on returning to where they thought they belonged. There’s a lesson in that for us as well: it’s easy for us humans to get overly attached to our ‘places’. Habit is good, but it can become a rut.

The winter doldrums

All painters should occasionally go somewhere else to paint, even if it’s just the next town over.
Snow squall at Twelve Corners, by Carol L. Douglas

It’s 3° F at my house. That’s positively balmy compared to other places in the north. It’s -13° in the Dakotas, -11° in Detroit, and so cold in Saranac Lake, NY that the National Weather Service refuses to speculate. This is what newscasters are breathlessly calling a polar vortex. It’s just our old friend winter, rebranded.

I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. I have antifreeze in my veins. The coldest weather I’ve ever painted in was -10°F. That was about twenty years ago, when I made the commitment that I’d paint outdoors six days a week for a whole year through. Sub-zero weather is a fact of life in Western New York, as are blizzards and wind-swept deluges in the warmer months. I painted through it all.
Path, by Carol L. Douglas
I came away from that year realizing two things. The first was that if you paint that much, you have to sell your work, if only to be able to afford more paint and canvases. That was the start of my consistent business practice.
More importantly, I didn’t need to do it again. Now I paint outdoors in the winter because I want to, not because I’ve got something to prove. That means I can set limits: no subzero weather, no gloomy days, and no howling winds. Snow paintings are best with sunlight.
One more thing I’ve only recently concluded: you can’t skimp on winter clothes. I’ve spent way too much time being cold because I was underdressed. That’s foolish.
Hayfield, Niagara County, NY, by Carol L. Douglas. The lumpiness in the paint is because it was so cold even my oils froze.
The painting above was done in a hayfield in Niagara County, NY. When I packed up to leave, I realized my van had a dead battery from the cold. Twenty years ago, I didn’t have a cell phone, so I trudged down the road to call my brother. “I was wondering what on earth you were doing there,” said the kind lady who answered the door. My brother just called me an idiot.
What do plein airartists do in the winter? Mostly, we paint indoors. All of us have ideas for studio paintings, commissions, etc., that need to be executed sometime. If we have any sense, we also rest. I haven’t done a good job of that this year; I’m scrambling to finish work before the season starts again.
Rock wall, by Carol L. Douglas. Winter means a lot of twilight in the north.
If we’re lucky, we sneak in a short trip South to paint, as I did last winter. This year, I’m being contrarian and flying west instead, to New Mexico (where it’s a balmy 25° and sunny today). Jane Chapin and I plan to paint some winter mountain scenes high above Santa Fe. Yes, we have mountains in the Northeast, but they’re a very different character.
All painters should occasionally go somewhere else to paint. It doesn’t have to be an expensive, extensive trip. If you live on the coastal plains, go to the hills. If you live in a town, go to the countryside. Even the smallest shift of viewpoint profits us. The land has a different shape, different focal points, different light, different masses. We stretch when we paint what’s outside our norm.
Suburban snowstorm, by Carol L. Douglas. Wherever there are trees and snow together, you can paint a landscape.
I leave Monday, weather permitting. I’m starting to pack my winter gear. But first, I must clear the driveway and bring in more wood. Ah, winter! You may be beautiful, but you’re also a lot of work.

The Bourbon Trail

Our national identity is to be found in diners and city parks, cypress swamps and little towns, local church services, at Home Depot, on city streets and lonely country roads.

I may have the wrong footwear for Buffalo…
As much as I like overseas travel, I’ve never felt the urge to teach in another country. Landscape painting conveys a deeper shade of intimacy that I simply don’t feel when visiting other places. I enjoy them, but I don’t love them in the same way as I love the US and Canada.
I took this trip to pave the way for a workshop in the Deep South. Why didn’t I just head to the more familiar eastern seaboard states? I’m familiar enough with them that a road trip wasn’t necessary. The central south has been calling to me for a long time, although I’m still not sure what it’s saying.
I usually approach Kentucky from the north. It seems very southern compared to Ohio. This time, driving up from Mississippi, it seemed northern, its drawl flattened out to a midwestern twang. Either way, its identity is confused. This is where the great antislavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was set. When Eliza struggled across the frozen Ohio River, she was literally leaping from slavery to freedom.
One-lane road, central Kentucky.
And yet, nowhere was ‘brother against brother’ truer than in Kentucky. The state tried to sit out the Civil war, but its self-declared neutrality was ignored by both sides. Eventually, it cast its lot with the Union. But southern sympathies were strong, and a group of citizens formed a shadow government that joined the Confederacy.
I came to love Kentucky when I did art festival in Louisville. Now I take every opportunity to shun-pike through this state. It has beautiful farms, lovely steep hollows and hills, and the biggest known cave system in the world. But I was being a serious driver yesterday, intending to get from Bowling Green to Buffalo, NY in one shot. That meant sticking to the Interstate system like a burr on a saddle-blanket.
Dogwood and distillery.
Maybe it was the knowledge that there was snow ahead, but I couldn’t resist veering down the Bluegrass Parkway. This runs east to Kentucky horse country. These are the most manicured farms in America, and the horses—even the ones free to graze near the road—are beasts of singular beauty. The spring grass is in, and the horses were gamboling in the sun.
Before I got that far, I saw a sign for Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail. That eventually put me on a series of one-lane roads. The blind corners, cropped hedges and small-town distilleries reminded me of the Isle of Skye.
Most of us, when we say we’ve ‘been to’ a place, mean we’ve driven through on the Interstate or we’ve flown in, gone downtown, eaten at trendy restaurants and seen a few tourist sites. You really don’t learn much about your country like that. Our common ground is to be found on the old Federal routes, at diners and city parks, in cypress swamps and little towns, at local church services, or talking to the guy at Home Depot. We should all do more of that.

When you’re a terrific failure

I’ve got an image in my mind and I can’t get it out on paper. Have I lost it?
Winter Lambing, by Carol L. Douglas
If you visit my studio this morning, you’ll find a massive pile of failed sketches on my work table. So many, in fact, that I’m now out of watercolor paper and have to buy more.
A few weeks ago, Facebook friends posted the photo, below, of their house in Sanborn, NY. There was a narrative quality to the simple frame house and the windswept snow, and I asked them if I could use it for reference. It was evocative of all the many winter evenings I’d driven along Route 31 in New York. Those drives were empty, flat and dark, broken by occasional holiday lights. At the town of Barre, you could count on a cross-wind to pick up the snow and throw it into the road, making the driving especially treacherous. My painting Winter Lambing, above, was based on a photograph I took on that stretch of road.
If my mind had left it there, I’d have been fine. The photo is beautifully composed as it stands. I am not averse to open space on the canvas, because it’s often a different sort of information. But then another thought crept in and started thrumming in the background. It’s terribly familiar and it starts like this:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;  
He will not see me stopping here  
To watch his woods fill up with snow…
Robert Frost’s little horse was nosing his way into my painting—not literally, of course, but the sense of waiting in the deep woods. Now I wanted both the little house with its lights and the road and woods. That would be a truly autobiographical painting. The problem is compositional. I haven’t worked out how to do it yet.
One of a gazillion fails.
The two images are fighting a titanic battle. I’ve lined spruces up in the foreground, with the little house twinkling in the back. I’ve put one goofy tree in front, which was a dismal solution (and the one that happened to be on my phone this morning). I’ve tried everything I can think of, in my sketchbook and with paint, and gotten absolutely nowhere. The trouble is, there’s no depth to this painting as I’m currently envisioning it, merely a series of planes stacked up one in front of the other. And as soon as the woods enter, the stillness exits.
So, I did what every (honest) artist does in this situation. I beat myself up about all kinds of other, unrelated disappointments. I had a wee dram—nay, two—and emailed my friend Martha about a cookbook she’d recommended. I watched some footage of old Rockport with my husband. And, of course, I asked myself whether I was over the hill, washed up, done. Had I suddenly forgotten how to draw and paint?
Years ago, I broke my thumb with a table saw. That was, in fact, a miracle accident, because the kickback caught me in my hand and not in my gut. I’d just had a groin-to-breastbone surgery, and the incision was still stapled. I scared myself witless, and didn’t go back to using the saw right away. To this day, I can’t touch one.
Just as with riding, the problem isn’t the fall, although that often hurts like hell. The problem is picking yourself up and getting back to work. Happily, I’ve found that these horrible dry periods are often a gloss over some serious work going on in the background, which in turn lead to important discoveries. I’ll be back at it again tomorrow.

The meaning of blue: color temperature on a snowy day

"Lewis R. French raising her sails," by Carol L. Douglas

“Lewis R. French raising her sails,” by Carol L. Douglas
I’m busy finishing plein air work from last season. Some of this needs nothing more than a few brush-strokes and a signature, some of it returned home as nothing more than color notes that need to be fleshed out into a painting.
That was the case with this small painting of the Lewis R. French raising her sails at Pulpit Harbor. I started this in the early morning, knowing I had only a few minutes to finish before the American Eagle sailed out. I probably did fewer than twenty brush strokes on site, but Sue Baines of the Kelpie Gallery saw something in it and urged me to finish it.
Normally, I trust my plein air sketches for color notes. In this case what I’d recorded didn’t match my emotional memory of the day, which told me that this had happened just after sunrise. So I heated up the lighting structure and it much more closely resembles the mood of that early morning in Pulpit Harbor.
"Doe drinking in the woods," by Carol L. Douglas

“Doe drinking in the woods,” by Carol L. Douglas
Blue shadows on evening snow. (Carol L. Douglas)
I painted Doe drinking in the Woods years ago. It was a demonstration to my students on how the color of light works in practice. The setting and lighting were imaginary.
The photograph of footprints in the ice on a winter evening, above, clearly shows blue shadows across the snow. I think it also gives a sense of my frustration about the condition of the sidewalks.
The exception to the color-of-light rule happens in indirect light. There are many places where an ambient cloudy milkiness is the dominant weather condition. In it, both color temperature and contrast are muted.
Snow shovelers in a snow squall. (Carol L. Douglas)

Snow shovelers in a snow squall. (Carol L. Douglas)
A snowstorm is an exaggeration of indirect light. There are no shadows; there are merely objects in space. A snowstorm exaggerates atmospheric perspective, too, rendering even middle-distance objects indistinct and neutral.
Artists constantly check themselves against a construct called “color temperature.” There are warm and cool colors, and warm and cool variations within each color. A warm color gives us a sense of warmth and energy and tends to draw our eye, like the life preserver on my painting of the Cadet. A cool color recedes from the eye and gives us a sense of static coldness, like the underside of Rockwell Kent’s iceberg from yesterday.
I’ve written before about the color of light, and it’s one of the most important concepts in painting. The earth’s atmosphere bends light just like a prism does, so what you see is always tinted. Either the light is warm and its shadows cool, or the light is cool and its shadows warm. Which that is depends on the time of day and the season of the year.
In the wintertime, the sun barely crests the treetops here in the North. The ground is often covered with neutral white snow. That gives us textbook conditions to see light temperature in action, for the sun on the horizon always gives us warm light and cool shadows.
Blue shadows on evening snow. (Carol L. Douglas)

Above the Arctic Circle

Light snow above the Artic Circle, by Carol L. Douglas.

I didn’t even know I had a bucket list, let alone that painting above the Arctic Circle was on it. But as I crossed the Yukon River, I realized that no amount of bad road was going to stop me from seizing this opportunity. My daughter asked me whether the Dawson Highway or the one-lane roads in the Hebrides were more terrifying to drive. It’s a draw.

The Dawson Highway is muddy and slick this time of year.
Northerners know that 25° F and damp feels colder than below 0° F and dry. It hovered in the freezing range all day, with bands of snow. It was beautiful, but not that comfortable.
The Alaska Pipeline near Yukon River.
We followed the Alaska Pipeline north from Fairbanks into the Arctic. It snakes from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and it’s a beautiful companion. It appears to be meticulously maintained; not only the pipe itself but the property surrounding it.
In some ways, Alaska has a “King Cotton” economy, based on oil. However, they don’t do much refining here. That’s part of the reason gasoline is pricier here; the other is the sheer distance between places. In Yukon River, I paid $5.59/gallon for unleaded.
Ice storm on the Dawson Highway.
As we approached the Arctic Circle, it got snowier and more desolate. The birch forests dwindled, leaving stunted black spruce forests and low shrubs on the higher elevations. The deep red of blueberry bushes covered the slopes.
A Mercedes people-mover played tag with us on the Dawson Highway. That’s a top-heavy vehicle and it worried me to see it slip-sliding in the deep mud at reckless speeds. We stopped at the Arctic Circle for the requisite photo op; it followed us in.
Un-mudding at the Arctic Circle.
We waited patiently while its load of Chinese tourists took every possible photo—the sign with each person, the sign with a hand puppet, calisthenics in front of the sign. A woman posed for a photo with our mud-spattered Maine license plate. At that, Mary and I collapsed in mirth, and they scurried away before I could say hello.

Visibility issues took a variety of forms.
After making a cup of hot coffee on our cook stove, we headed back south, intending to camp near Manley Hot Springs. The visibility was too poor, so we stopped where we were for the night. It was mighty cold when we woke up this morning.
It’s sunny this morning. We’re heading in stages toward Dawson City, Yukon, which was one of the base camps for the Alaska Gold Rush.

Corporal Acts of Mercy

Another snowy day in the Duchy.
Being very laid back, we in the Duchy don’t enforce all that border-crossing nonsense, but if you visit, you know immediately that you’re in a different space.
For one thing, our hierarchy is upside down. The nobility—and by that I mean me—seem to spend an inordinate amount of time clearing drains and uncovering fire hydrants. This isn’t because I’m particularly nice; in fact, I’m a curmudgeon, always grumbling about the neighbor who lets his dog defecate on my property. That blasted spaniel is indiscriminate about where he goes. Last month he went right in the middle of our front walk. My assistant managed to pick it up on her shoe and track it through my house, forcing us to stop working and wash all the hardwood floors. But I digress.
The Duchy has a resident saint and she frequently drags me along on her acts of mercy. Mary has lived in the Duchy for her entire life, so she knows everyone. She has a tender heart. I do not, but I go along with her schemes because they’re always more interesting than whatever I was supposed to be doing.
Winter snowsquall in the Duchy. 6X8, oil on canvas, Carol L. Douglas
“Number 178 is being cased by a burglar in an old silver sedan,” Penny the Ducal Mailperson announced yesterday. “Two feet of snow in the driveway and a package in the door for days; it’s obvious that nobody’s home.” Because Mary fixes things, Penny handed her a slip of paper with the license plate number on it.
A portrait of the artist as a maintenance guy.
The easiest solution was to shovel out Number 178 to make it look less abandoned.  The average house in the Duchy has 30 feet of front walk, 50 feet of sidewalk, and 120 feet of tarmac that starts about 10 feet across and widens to a parking area in the back. Only a zealot (me) ever shovels this by hand. Nobody who is not dead lets it build up, especially when Mother Nature is furiously showering down snow. It packs in like concrete.
An hour into our Herculean labors, we saw a commercial plow come down the street. “Let’s pay him to finish this,” we instantly agreed. Ripping off her hat and shaking out her gleaming blonde hair, Mary flashed a bit of very shapely leg at him to get his attention. He trundled on.
Mother Nature is just in one of those moods.
“Boy, was thatever a kick in the ego,” she grumbled.
“I think you’re supposed to remove some of the twelve layers you’re wearing,” I pointed out.
Today Number 178 was snowed in again. There were footprints around the house and garage, as if someone was peering in the windows. Again we shoveled, and then we called the police.
Bad parking job.
The irony? That’s the neighbor whose dog messes on my property.  And that’s why Mary is a saint: nobody else could have gotten me to do that.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

Surprise, it’s snowing!

Wharf Scene in Winter, c. 1910, Charles Salis Kaelin
We woke up to yet another grey, snow-covered day with a temperature of 12° F. and all-day snow on the forecast. It’s a good thing snow is beautiful, and ever so paintable. Here are three snow scenes from American masters.
Charles Salis Kaelin was one of the earliest American exponents of Divisionism (or Chromoluminarism). This is the style invented by Georges Suerat, where colors are separated into individual dots or patches which interact optically.
 Kaelin was a respected member of the art colony at Rockport, Massachusetts. 
Snow scene by Emile Albert Gruppé . He painted many variations on this theme—mountains, stream, snow.
Emile Albert Gruppé was born in Rochester, NY, but spent his formative years in the Netherlands. He was the son of painter Charles P. Gruppé. The family returned permanently to the United States in 1913 as the political situation in Europe deteriorated. Gruppé was one of the most famous of the Cape Ann painters, establishing himself in Gloucester, MA.
Winter Rocky Landscape, William Partridge Burpee. There’s a hint of Spring in there.
William Partridge Burpee was born in Rockland, ME. He studied with marine painter William Bradford in the late 1870s and began painting in the luminist marine style of Fitz Hugh Lane. He began showing in Boston in the 1880s but did not take up pastel until after a Grand Tour to Europe in 1897, where he became more familiar with impressionism. In 1914, he returned to his birthplace, where he died in 1940.
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!

Sometimes metaphor is an uphill battle

Winter lambing, underpainting, by little ol’ me.
If you were properly brought up on James Herriot, you know that a late winter blizzard can play havoc with lambing. This is not just an historical oddity; last spring a mid-April blizzard in Northern Ireland killed 17,000 lambs and sheep. Cold is not their only enemy. Weak and stranded sheep are at the mercy of predators. 
I’m apparently in the minority in being a fan of snow, but it’s a great thermal insulator, it supplies us with all the fresh water we need, and it sweeps the world clean. I think it makes a perfect metaphor for grace. As for the lamb, I assume that needs no explanation.
The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt, second version, 1854–6.
William Holman Hunt made a similar assumption with The Scapegoat. The painting was deeply meaningful to the artist, who painted two versions following a crisis of faith. The painting identifies the scapegoat of Leviticus 16:22 as a prototype for the Messiah as “suffering servant” as described in Isaiah 53:4.
The Scapegoat by William Holman Hunt, first version, 1854–5.
After struggling for two years to make something of it, Hunt showed the painting to the Belgian art dealer Gambart:
“What do you call that?”
The Scapegoat.” 
“Yes, but what is it doing?”
“You will understand by the title, Le bouc expiatoire.”
“But why expiatoire?” he asked.
“Well, there is a book called the Bible, which gives an account of the animal. You will remember.”
“No,” he replied, “I never heard of it.”
“Ah, I forgot, the book is not known in France, but English people read it more or less,” I said, “and they would all understand the story of the beast being driven into the wilderness.”
“You are mistaken. No one would know anything about it, and if I bought the picture it would be left on my hands. Now, we will see,” replied the dealer. “My wife is an English lady, there is a friend of hers, an English girl, in the carriage with her, we will ask them up, you shall tell them the title; we will see. Do not say more.”
The ladies were conducted into the room. “Oh how pretty! What is it?” they asked.
“It is The Scapegoat,” I said.
There was a pause. “Oh yes,” they commented to one another, “it is a peculiar goat, you can see by the ears; they droop so.”
The dealer then, nodding with a smile towards me, said to them, “It is in the wilderness.”
The ladies: “Is that the wilderness now? Are you intending to introduce any others of the flock?”
Sometimes metaphor is an uphill battle.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops